By Howard Stephenson
Utah State Senator, District 11SB 156
is a soft repeal of the 17th amendment, which ended the election of U.S. Senators by local legislative action.
The nation's founders understood that an essential element in the balance of powers was that the Senate represented the states while the House represented the citizens of each the various congressional districts.
Part of the reason the Constitution gives each state two U.S. Senators, regardless of the population of the state, was the Founder’s recognition that the states were equal; in the beginning the senators represented state interests and were naturally elected by the legislatures of their respective states. With the advent of the direct election of senators, the sensitivity of the U.S. Senate to the problems faced by states was severely diminished.
SB 156 provides for the legislature to give direction to the U.S. Senators from Utah and to require periodic reporting from them on their progress in carrying out the directives received. It would also allow political parties to nominate U.S. Senate candidates by sending two names to the legislature and asking their political party's legislative caucus to pare the candidates down to one for the November ballot.
What would be different if the U.S. Senate were more attuned to the desires of their respective elected state legislatures?
- At least one chamber of Congress would be much more likely to advocate for the sovereignty of the states and states' rights;
- Medicare and Medicaid funding would not have so many costly requirements; Transportation funding wouldn't have so many strings attached;
- The federal gas tax would be small or non-existent;
- No Child Left Behind would have failed or would look very different;
- Federal land policy would respect the needs of the states; and
- The National Environmental Protection Act would look entirely different today if the 50 states had more influence over the United States Senate.